Blazers, Golden Eagles get an early start

By Al Jones/The Sun Herald (MCT)

Following a much-needed bye week, Southern Miss run toward a possible Conference USA championship continues with today’s home game with Alabama-Birmingham.

The Golden Eagles (5-2 overall, 2-1 in C-USA) and Blazers (2-5, 1-2) meet for the 10th time at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

Southern Miss, 8-1 all-time against the Blazers, have been installed as an 10-point favorite.

But it was one year ago that the Blazers beat the Golden Eagles 30-17 to notch their only win of the short series.

It’s a loss that Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora points to.

“Our guys are very aware of what happened last year, I can assure you,” Fedora said. “They are anxious to get back on the field.

“Six wins is not a question, it’s not ‘are we going to get to six wins,’ that is just expected and known that that’s what we are going to do. I do not think the guys look at getting that sixth win any different. We just want to be 1-0 at the end of this week.”

On the field, UAB coach Neil Callaway, who’s team is coming off a 29-24 loss at Mississippi State, expects a strong challenge from a Golden Eagles offense that averages 419.9 yards per game.

The Golden Eagles average 30.9 points per game and have outscored opponents 133-43 in the first half behind the play of junior quarterback Austin Davis (1,480 passing yards) and a fleet of receivers, including Kelvin Bolden, who has 18 receptions for 324 yards.

“Offensively, they will put a lot more stress on our secondary than Mississippi State did this past week,” Callaway said. “Mississippi State was more of a running football team. Southern Miss is very capable of running the football, but they will throw the ball downfield and do a very good job with it. I think they have good receivers, running backs and quarterbacks.

“I just really think that they are a good all-around football team. They play very hard.”